OTTERS EXTRA: Erie Otters expected to address backlog up front

   October 10, 2013 12:48 pm    0

 

The Erie Otters have 15 forwards on the roster. Head coach Kris Knoblauch wants to carry 13 moving forward.
That means two forwards need to be reassigned. When that happens, Knoblauch didn’t know. But who might be the odd players out may be easier to determine. Veteran Travis Wood and rookies Quentin Maksimovich and Patrick Murphy were healthy scratches for Wednesday’s win against Owen Sound. They should be scratched again Friday in Kitchener, since Knoblauch expects to use the same lineup again. And with the return of Joel Wigle from double shoulder surgery, and the high praise the new fourth line of Jake Evans-Kyle Pettit and Nick Betz have earned from Knoblauch, it would seem Wood, Maksimovich and Murphy would play only if teammates are injured or suspended.
That lack of playing time would hinder their development. They would be better off playing for another OHL club that needs young forwards. There’s also the Tier II level, which would give them more ice time but also allow the Otters to recall them when needed.
There’s reasons why each player should stay in Erie…
Maksimovich is a natural forward. He had 11 goals and 17 points in 25 games with the Toronto Marlboros minor midget club a season ago. Yet Wood has the most offensive potential and the most experience at the OHL level. He spent some time playing the point on the second power-play unit last season. He also has more speed than the other two and has been a physical presence when given the chance to play during his career.
But from what I’ve seen, Murphy has been the best player in that trio, even though he only made the transition to forward from defense in the preseason. Dropping 20 pounds in the offseason and improving his footwork has helped with that.
Meanwhile, Murphy and Wood provide an added dimension Maksimovich doesn’t – the ability to play forward and defense. Given the Otters’ track record with injuries, having two players with such versatility is invaluable…
If they keep only 13 skaters, here’s my take…Maksimovich would be the first cut. He will have the toughest time cracking the lineup. So a season in Junior A or B would put him a step closer to being a full-time player with the Otters next season. The second choice is a much tougher one, yet I would keep Wood over Murphy because he’s a better skater and more experienced at forward at this stage.
But Murphy, who I’ve been impressed with so far this season, would be only a phone call away…

So what’s your take? Send me your comments here or on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/goeriehockey…

– VIctor Fernandes

 

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